Madam Speaker, I should like to make a couple of quick comments and then ask the member some questions.
I have one comment about the Prime Minister's decision to allow CN to be privatized. It is pretty well known in this place, and the Prime Minister has said it publicly many times, that he does not always get his way. If cabinet makes a decision, like the rest of us who believe in the party process he will support the majority of opinion. That is difficult on that side over there where they try to play the smoke and mirrors game of their leader letting them do what they like when we all know he is probably the most draconian person in the place when it comes to not letting his members do what they want.
From a railroader's perspective and being the only railroader in the House, I have a bit of an advantage over my colleague from Calgary. He talked about the fact that there was problem with having Montreal designated as the place to keep CN headquarters.
Reformers continually tell us that they use the age old ability to find out what people think by going out and consulting. I was on the transport committee. My colleague opposite was also on the committee. We listened to many people talk about the effects of Montreal being the headquarters. We asked the investment bankers what they thought. The gentleman opposite being a business person would know that bankers are important people to ask. What did they say? They said that there would be no effect.
Let me tell the House why. What is in Montreal at head office? There is a central calling bureau for railroaders. For people out there who do not know, it is a huge enterprise where every railroader who works for CN is called. It is a major undertaking that cost CN some $30 million to put into place in the last few years. To have that completely changed and transferred to another system would cost millions of dollars. Also, at CN or CP there is a central power bureau where every locomotive in the country is designated for a particular train or a particular piece of track. One would think it was outer space with all the technology involved there. To move the whole process to Edmonton or Calgary would cost the corporation literally millions of dollars.
It would not cost a cent of the sale of CN to maintain the headquarters in Montreal. Quite frankly it is good business practice to do so. Therefore the investment bankers have said to us that there is no problem.
On the 15 per cent retention I want to comment that CP, a privately owned company, does not have a restriction. In fact the most of CP owned by an individual is 11 per cent.
Investment bankers are saying on the one hand that there is no cost effect to having Montreal designated as the headquarters. In fact it would be worse if we tried to leave it open and someone suggested for political reasons because of the sovereignist and separatist problems in Montreal that we should move it. It would hurt the company if someone suggested it for political reasons. Leaving it there for stability reasons is a much more appropriate process.
CP is a private corporation. It has never had anyone purchase more than 11 per cent of the company. Investment bankers do not believe the 15 per cent limitation will have any effect on the sale.
Why would the Reform Party be so adamant that they are impediments to the sale and getting a good price for CN when they are not by reason of sound investment bankers, consultations the government has made and what we have heard as a committee from witnesses? Is that not what the Reform Party says it is all about: if people tell us it makes good sense then do it? We have been told it makes good sense. Why is the Reform Party not supporting that when everyone we have talked to says that it makes good sense and it will not affect the sale price?